An ode to Ireland in the middle of the city where the portions are huge and the spirits are high.
This week I indulged in some true tastes of home at the Paddy Field Bar. With their large range of English and Irish classics, it’s best to visit the Paddy Field on an empty stomach. As one of the only places in Wuhan which can properly fill you up on western food, and the only Irish owned Irish bar in the city, their ‘proper portions’ and authentic approach will satisfy any craving for gravy, potatoes and high quality meat.
Located in the brand new Horizon shopping plaza near Tiandi, the Paddy Field is only one month old but already feels like a true Irish pub. The owner is Brendan, a friendly, straight talking Irish man who knows (and likes) his drinks. He explains that the bar is an extension of their brand in Guangzhou, where they opened their first and hugely successful Paddy Field bar.
Brendan began his experience in China by working in potato farming. Starting on the fields, he taught the Chinese how to grow potatoes and brought Irish tastes to the Chinese palette, visiting farms all over the country, and now using this knowledge to make the best Irish potato dishes in his restaurants.
After making a strong Irish coffee, Brendan begins to describe the bar in his Irish lilt, ‘we go for a rough and ready approach here, it’s not gourmet but it’s full of flavour; proper portions and real meat’. They aren’t precious about the furniture either, and the whole place has a comfortable, lived-in, pub style atmosphere and design. There are private booths for families who want dinner and high top tables next to the bar for drinking later into the evening. The backdoors open out onto the shopping malls’ rooftop garden, which will eventually become a relaxed beer garden for summer evenings.
Décor and Atmosphere
The walls are covered in unique posters and maps of Ireland, with old newspaper cuttings documenting Irish history and famous national figures. Brenden explains that the place is a safe haven for people that know their brand, and that Irish businessmen will even bring extra pieces of memorabilia from home, such as an accordion or picture, special whiskies that cannot be imported into China.
The place strives to be more than a bar, but to form a community. Brendan slips into his Irish language now and then, making a point that he wants the staff to have ‘crack’ with the customers. It’s important that the servers build up a relationship with the customers, and so staff at The Paddy Field are highly paid and highly trained.
Although some of the prices may seem steep with main courses priced from 60-90RMB, you get more than enough for your money. Their fajitas come with enough steak to feed a family and their pizzas are definitely shareable. The fish and chips originally included three large pieces of battered fish, but as customers have continuously struggled to finish, they have recently downsized to two.
Every meal has just the right sides and details, whether that’s tartar sauce, homemade coleslaw or fresh guacamole and salsa. Ingredients are brought fresh from markets and high quality importers, making authentic pub grub food. Everything that can be homemade is made in their kitchen, making dishes more unique, healthy and faithful to British and Irish flavours.
Their food ranges from chicken Kievs to Italian classics like pasta and pizza, as well as classics like shepherd’s pie. They serve unique dishes such as Buffalo wings and seafood chowder, difficult to find in any other restaurant in Wuhan. Their chilli cheese burger has fresh slices of tomato and freshly baked European style bread.
If you’re craving a real piece of meat, look no further than this dish: two joints of lamb slow cooked for 5 hours, where the meat just falls off the bone, no fat, no fuss. Comes with mashed potato for a true British taste and the sauce is homemade and delicious.
2Buffalo Chicken Wings
The perfect starter to share with friends, grab some drinks and have a relaxed evening in the bar. These meaty wings are just the right mix of spicy and sweet, marinated in their sticky sauce yet still remaining crispy skinned. Presented alongside sliced cucumber for a refreshing combination.
3Fish and Chips
Sample a true British classic with this massive meal. Two battered fishes with hand cut chips, fresh lemon and tartar sauce, an authentic British dish without the grease.
4Chocolate Fugly Cake
The best way to end a meal. Soft, sticky and delicious, can satisfy any sweet tooth’s chocolate desires. Served with ice-cream and orange slices, this is a technically intricate dish that needs a skilled chef to create. If made incorrectly, the centre collapses, but when made just right at the Paddy Field, it’s a melt in the mouth centre.
Good salads remain hard to come by even in the most high class restaurants in China, but the Paddy Field does it right. Fresh leafy greens with loads of protein filled extras to keep you full: boiled eggs, fresh, flavoursome salmon and a homemade Caesar salad dressing. This dish is far from the lettuce and mayo that usually passes for salads in China.